Computer questions: what is a serial port and how does it work
Serial ports connect devices such as modems, scanners and printers to your computer. Find out how serial ports improve communications between your PC and its peripherals.
Serial ports are the connectors on the back of your PC that enable your computer to control devices such as modems, scanners, and printers. Although some serial ports use a 25-pin interface, most only have nine pins. One pin serves as the ground while the others handle the flow of data between a computer and its peripherals. Serial ports are also known as communication (COM) ports, and most PCs have at least one.
Unlike parallel ports which send a full byte (8 bits) of data at once, serial ports can transfer information only one bit at a time. They use a bidirectional form of communications that allows information to travel back and forth across a cable. RS-232 is the standard serial port design determined by the Electronics Industry Association (EIA). Among its other specifications, a RS-232 serial port can connect a computer to a device located more than 50 meters away.
Serial devices use an asynchronous process to control the transfer of information, relying on special start and stop bits to signal when serial data should or shouldn't be transmitted. The asynchronous method divides information into packets of one byte each, sometimes including a special parity bit to verify the integrity of the data in each packet.
In your computer, the UART (Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter) converts the parallel data moving throughout your PC into a serial format that can be used by other serial devices. The procedure is reversed, however, when your computer receives serial data it must work with. The UART is also directly responsible for regulating the flow of serial bits.
In most serial communications, a device such as a modem is called the data communications equipment (DCE), while the computer itself is referred to as the data terminal equipment (DTE). The DCE and DTE (or two DTEs) establish a connection described as a "handshake" prior to exchanging data.
Your computer assigns an input/output (I/O) address and an interrupt request line (IRQ) to each serial port in your PC. This designation gives devices priority over each other as they attempt to communicate with your computer. Unfortunately, trouble occurs when a device is given the same I/O address or IRQ. This conflict can lead to your system shutting down or other PC problems. Therefore, make sure new serial devices are installed on only available I/O addresses and interrupts.
If you think your computer is experiencing a conflict, you can usually change your port configurations through software installed on your system. Consult your PC owner's manual or activate your operating system's help feature for instructions on how to fix port conflicts. Also, there are several shareware programs available that may help you detect possible conflicts as well.
Because many devices now use universal serial bus (USB) ports, computer users deal with fewer conflicts. USB ports use a different technology that offers much greater data transfer speeds than both parallel and serial ports. Also, USB ports support the connection of over 100 devices to your PC. But as long as computers continue to use modems, serial ports will probably be needed. Serial ports, despite their conflict issues, use a reliable form of data communications, and have performed quite well over the years.
If you have a porch, patio or deck then you should make these areas just as warm and inviting as your indoor spaces. These outdoor spaces actually increase your living area by square footage, which makes them ideal for extending your home's possibilities. Whether you entertain or just want a spot to curl up in a chair and soak in the weather, outdoor spaces shouldn't be overlooked.
It's a shame to have these spaces as part of your home and only use them occasionally. If you decorate them in warm and inviting ways, then there's no reason why they can't be enjoyed as often as other areas of your home.
The problem most people make with their porches or decks is they think of them as an after thought. As a result, they just put out some lawn furniture and a barbecue grill and they are done. But, this lack of attention doesn't invite you or anyone else to stay for a while.
Think of your outdoor spaces as ?rooms? and decorate them like you would an interior room. What type of things do you consider when decorating an interior room? Color scheme, furniture arrangement, floors, walls, ceilings, artistic accents, etc. These are things to consider when designing your outdoor space, too.
Because your outdoor rooms tend to butt up against the exterior walls of your home, use a color scheme that complements your home's color. It's also a good idea to blend that with the outdoor environment, because nature tends to stand in as your other ?walls.?
Create intimate seating areas with chairs and tables. One area of your patio might be suitable for conversation with weatherproof sofas and coffee tables. Another area can be set up for dining or playing monopoly or a game of cards.
Include furniture pieces that you don't mind keeping outdoors. It's okay if they become a bit weathered over the years ? that only adds to the appeal of the space. Use an old hutch to store barbecue utensils or gardening supplies. One with open shelving can display colorful potted plants. These in themselves add an additional decorative element to the space.
Include some built-in pieces like benches or container gardens to create a more permanent feeling to your space. When you anchor a space with built-ins, it doesn't feel like an after-thought.
There are lots of beautiful weatherproof fabrics for your seating areas available today. If you live in mild climates go ahead and use cushions and throw pillows made from cotton or other fabrics. They might bleach a bit over time from the sun, but they add character and coziness to a space. Store them in your outdoor hutch during inclement weather when necessary and bring them out again later.
Include art in your outdoor rooms by hanging items on the exterior walls of your house. Bring in sculptural pieces, too. Even something as simple as a wooden ladder leaning against the house can have a decorative element to it. Other outdoor items like gazing balls, wheelbarrows potted with flowers, or shutters hinged together to create privacy screens are complementary to outdoor spaces.
Decorate your floors, too. Paint a checkerboard pattern or a faux rug on your deck or patio. If you have a covered porch or patio, think about the ceiling treatment, too. Also include extra mood lighting and breezy ceiling fans to extend the coziness of your outdoor space during different temperatures or times of day.
When creating home improvements, don't overlook your exterior spaces. They should be addressed like all areas of your home. Don't turn them into boring after-thoughts. Like your front entrance ? make them as welcoming and appealing as possible. You will get more enjoyment value out of your house when you use the extra square footage in these places, too.
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